Will your Thanksgiving festivities entail traveling 50 miles or more? If so, you’ll be joining 55 million other folks, according to AAA, who predicts this will be the second-highest Thanksgiving travel volume since they began tracking in 2000, trailing only the record set in 2005. That’s up by about a million over last year. Of those travelers, 49.3 will be motorists.
If you will be driving to your destination, try to get your car checked now. Be sure to check windshield wipers and fluid, tire pressure and oil and gas levels. AAA predicts they will respond to 368,000 calls for roadside assistance over the holiday, with the top three reasons being dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts. In addition to car maintenance, Gas Buddy will help you find the best gas prices wherever you are – and you can plan out expenses in advance using their Trip Cost Calculator. If you will be driving in states beyond your home state, brush up on traffic laws with the AAA Digest of Motorist Laws. This handy tool covers everything: headline use, distracted and impaired driving laws, accident reporting and more.
Best times for Thanksgiving road travel
If you’ll be on the road, AAA says that in the Boston metro area, avoid traveling between 4:30-6:30 PM. Google offers tools that might help you avoid the worst traffic times. Below, see the heaviest times mapped for major metro areas (click above link for larger). You can also use their calculator for avoiding traffic – enter the major metro departure city for various days to see predicted traffic patterns based on prior years.
Here are some other safe Thanksgiving traveling tips:
- Check the weather in advance
- Leave early. Give yourself plenty of time to reduce stress.
- Have an emergency winter kit in your trunk.
- Buckle up. Be sure you and all passengers have seat belts secured, even backseat passengers.
- Secure your pets.
- Stay focused. Distractions like cellphones and texting, incoming messages, eating and drinking, can all take attention from the road when seconds count.
- Take breaks.
- Watch your blind spots.
- Slow down. Drive within posted speed limits.
- Watch for wildlife on the roads, particularly at dawn and dusk.
- Take care around large trucks and commercial vehicles.
- Be patient and calm. Road rage is a real and dangerous thing.
Never drive while impaired.
- If something does go wrong, here’s what to do if you have a car breakdown while on the road.